Butch Jones deserves some credit.
Upon his arrival in Knoxville, Tennessee football was at its all-time low. Because of him, the Vols are now a program resurrected from the dead. In the process of rebuilding a program, that’s part of the natural progression.
But during Monday’s press conference at Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio, Butch revealed what his true Achilles heel is, and it isn’t play-calling, his use of timeouts, or those infamous cliches that transform into national punch lines.
Rather, those details fall under the umbrella of Butch’s problem: He doesn’t pay attention to the details. This shouldn’t be the case for a head coach during his fifth season at a prestigious program, but alas, here we are.
Butch’s Achilles heel came to fruition during his explanation of Tennessee’s goal-line situation in the third quarter against Florida. With the Vols trailing 6-3 in a game where points were (at that time) hard to come by, it was a pivotal possession that resulted in a Dormady interception.
But if Butch had paid attention to the details, that mistake never would’ve happened.
“That can’t happen on the goal line. You have first-and-goal from the 1 and we need to score. We had a run play called (it was confirmed later that Dormady switched out of the play)… would we have liked to the run the ball there? Absolutely. Then, the plan there on second down to get under center and do a quarterback sneak or run the football outside. Quinten tweaks his knee and we didn’t think it was fair for Jarrett to have to go in the game and do an underneath center snap when he didn’t have time to practice the underneath center snap. So there’s a lot of nuances throughout the course of those two plays.”
If that quote doesn’t exemplify Jones’ inability to pay attention to details, I don’t know what does.
Dormady — starting in his third career game against a menacing defense in a hostile environment — probably shouldn’t have the leeway to call out of a run play on the goal line. Guarantano — who wasn’t utilized in any creative formations at all on Saturday — probably should’ve practiced under center at some point during camps, considering that Dormady is a human being, and like every other human being that plays football, he has a chance of missing plays due to injury. Furthermore, why is Butch admitting this out loud?
There’s a reason the Vols are 6-5 in their last 11 games. It’s not because of the “nature of competition,” as Jones said, because the only justifiable loss in this stretch came against Alabama. It’s because Butch himself pays no attention to the fine details.
So if the coach doesn’t, how can the coach expect his players to?
Those calling for Jones’ head today need to relax. It’s too early in the season to fire a coach who still has time to, as Butch said on Monday, “leave no stone unturned” and turn it around. No team in the SEC East is that much better than Tennessee, so the Vols winning the division isn’t out of the realms of possibility.
However, in all likelihood, Butch will find a way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. He’ll either do this by mismanaging timeouts or putting his players in poor situations. Regardless of how it happens, it’ll happen because Butch hasn’t paid too much attention to the details.